April 24th, 2024

‘An uncertainty bomb’: Politicians, industry weigh in on Alberta’s renewables rules

By The Canadian Press on February 28, 2024.

A wind turbine is shown at a wind farm near Pincher Creek, Alta., Wednesday, March 9, 2016. Reaction is pouring in to the Alberta government's new rules for future wind and solar energy projects. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON – Reaction is pouring in to the Alberta government’s new rules for future wind and solar energy projects. They include a ban on new wind projects located within 35-kilometre “buffer zones” around protected areas and other “pristine viewscapes” designated by the province and an “agriculture first” approach by the Alberta Utilities Commission when evaluating proposed development on agricultural lands.

Here’s a look at some of the responses:

“Today’s announcement has dropped an uncertainty bomb on renewable project investors and developers in Alberta. Until last year, the province was the undisputed renewables capital of Canada, securing over $4.7 billion in new investment and bringing thousands of new jobs to the province since 2019. Now Alberta is undermining its own success, making it one of the only jurisdictions in the world trying to frustrate the deployment of cheap, clean, renewable electricity.” – Evan Pivnick, clean energy program manager at Clean Energy Canada.

“While details are needed across all categories, particularly concerning is the continued vagueness of the viewscapes requirements. Taken at face value, an unprecedented 35-kilometre buffer zone around all protected areas in southern Alberta would eliminate large sections of the province and would create a backdoor land ban.” – Jorden Dye, director of the Business Renewables Centre-Canada.

“Largely, we’re happy, because the (rules) follow the responsible development program that PACE follows … If the AUC had been allowed to follow the normal consultation process and look at what responsible developers do, taking a page from PACE’s book, this abeyance probably wouldn’t have been required.” – Claude Mindorff, director of development for Pathfinder Clean Energy.

“Restrictions announced today on the renewable energy sector are patently unfair, targeting a key industry that supports reliable and affordable electricity. These restrictions – that do not apply to other industries or land uses – will lead to fewer projects, slow the growth of clean and inexpensive electricity, and curtail an otherwise reliable and growing source of municipal tax revenue.” – Jason Wang, senior analyst at the Pembina Institute.

“These restrictions should not be applied only to renewable energy developments; they should also apply to the far more harmful oil and gas industry.” – Ruiping Luo, conservation specialist with the Alberta Wilderness Association.

“Albertans have been vocal that they don’t want largescale developments to interfere with our province’s most beautiful natural features. You cannot build wind turbines the size of the Calgary Tower in front of a UNESCO World Heritage site or on Nose Hill or in your neighbour’s backyard. We have a duty to protect the natural beauty and communities of our province.” – Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

“Let’s not be fooled, the devil is in the details. Danielle Smith is continuing her ideological crusade against renewables by placing a range of overly-restrictive conditions on future renewable projects. Today, she essentially announced that, with the new 35-kilometre rule and other layers of restrictions, the vast majority of Alberta is off limits for new renewables. It seems that the “˜temporary’ job killing moratorium is now becoming permanent job-killing policy, via a red-tape burial of this job-creating industry.” – Liberal MP George Chahal, who represents Calgary Skyview and chair of the Standing Committee of Natural Resources.

“Investments follow certainty and clarity, and this new red tape won’t help. These rules are anti-business. The government must be transparent and release the Alberta Utilities Commission inquiry’s reports. Alberta has the potential to be the home of a thriving and competitive renewables industry and this new red tape will result in further investment uncertainty and send a signal that Alberta isn’t open for business.” – Nagwan Al-Guneid, Alberta NDP energy and climate critic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2024.

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